That was a heck of an e-action


Well done to the RSPB, and the Wildlife Trusts, for launching an impressive e-action over the weekend to persuade the Prime Minister to back his Secretary of State and go ahead with a 15% transfer of funds from one part of the CAP (the rather useless part) to another part of the CAP (the rather better part).

By Copyright by World Economic Forum, by Remy Steinegger. [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Copyright by World Economic Forum, by Remy Steinegger. [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

We’ll have to see whether David Cameron was having an afternoon snooze or whether he took notice of (according to the RSPB , mid-Sunday afternoon) 124,000 emails to Downing Street.  It will be interested to see whether that figure was accurate and by how much it increased in the following hours.  The membership of the NFU is 55,000.

Only the NFU were putting themselves about to defend the indefensible current system of handing out taxpayers’ money with basically no strings attached to rich and poor farmers, good and bad farmers, efficient and inefficient farmers.  But then we can hardly criticise a union for looking after its members’ selfish interests.

What will David Cameron decide?

And whatever is decided, there may be a few little devils in the details of implementation.  Watch this space.

See Sunday’s three blogs on the subject here, here and here.


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  1. M Parry

    good points Mark, but it took me good while to realise the cheque in the picture was written to 'a farmer'. Your writing rather obscures your point! I spent ages wondering who 'A. Forman' was.

  2. Dennis Ames

    That just shows how pathetic rspb were on not promoting H H petition,disgraceful.

    • Mark

      Dennis - I thought you would say that. And I think you have a point.

  3. Jimmy Radlett

    Sorry Dennis it could be argued the rspb have listened to the complaints over the HH epetition!
    Just two quick points over this rebate removal, firstly some including the rspb are acting like they have received the money already but no-one has discussed wether the money will go directly to conservation bodies to spend where and how they think it would have the biggest impact, or will it be the government/defra who decide and if it's the government and will they just spend it on another cull!
    Secondly we're dealing with a government who has done more u-turns then a lost motorist using a sat-nav.
    And while I'm here can anyone answer me why the rspb has spent so much money asking for the general public to give nature a home YET now asking for donations to repair storm damaged reserves along the east coast, WHERE HAS THE MONEY FROM THEIR ADD CAMPAIGN GONE?

    • Mark

      Jimmy - you seem very confused.

      The CAP reform money will go into agri-environment schemes which pay landowners to do good things for the environment - not to the RSPB or the Wildlife Trusts to play with as they wish. And it won't go to culling badgers either - although I don't think OPatz has dropped that idea!

      All charities ask for money when they can show that they have a special need. I expect you think that Oxfam et al shouldn't ask for money to work in Syria because they ought to have that money already!

      As I write this, I hear on the radio that the UN is asking for £4bn for work net year - some of it specifically for Syria.

  4. Wendy Birks

    As far as I understand it that 15% may not all go to benefit wildlife or other environmental schemes. Some or all may go to farm diversification projects which may include rather untraditional rural businesses. Where I live that could mean grants to develop health spas in the countryside, or where farmers have campsites, paying for the erection of yurts and composting toilets for holiday makers etc. etc.

    • Mark

      Wendy - you are right, which is why I wrote 'although it isn’t quite that simple, but I’ll come back to that in a while, if I must' in yesterday's blog entitled 'More on that 15%'. Let's see where we are with the 15% first!

  5. Alan Cranston

    "But then we can hardly criticise a union for looking after its members’ selfish interests."

    I wondered if "selfish" was not otiose here - and perhaps likely to make farmers cross. But if you leave it out, you quickly get to the question whether the NFU is indeed defending its members' interests. Narrow or immediate interests, perhaps. But wider interests? I'm not sure.

    • Mark

      Alan - Maybe. But it serves to stress the point.

      That nice Charles Clover was much ruder! Wanting to keep taxpayers money and not deliver public goods in return seems pretty selfish to me.

      It reminds me of years ago when a former President of the NFU called modulation 'Robbing Peter to pay Paul' until it was pointed out to him that it wasn't either Peter's or Paul's money to start with.


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